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Meet the Press: How Voters and Politicians Respond to Newspaper Entry and Exit

Listed author(s):
  • Drago, Francesco

    ()

    (University of Naples Federico II)

  • Nannicini, Tommaso

    ()

    (Bocconi University)

  • Sobbrio, Francesco

    ()

    (European University Institute)

This paper evaluates the effects of changes in the supply of news provided by newspapers on electoral participation, political selection, and government efficiency. We address these issues in the Italian context by constructing a new dataset covering the presence of local news by different types of newspapers (i.e., local and national) for all cities above 15,000 inhabitants in the period 1993-2010. The identification strategy exploits discrete changes in the number of newspapers supplying local news and the precise timing of these events. The results show that the entry of newspapers in the market for local news leads to an increase in turnout in municipal elections, a higher probability of the incumbent mayor being reelected, and an improvement in the efficiency of the municipal government (as measured by the speed of revenue collection). The effect of newspapers on government efficiency is larger when mayors are not term-limited and thus face reelection incentives. Our evidence shows that newspapers do not have a major impact on the selection of politicians, but they play a relevant role in keeping politicians accountable once they are in office. Competition plays a relevant role, as the effects are not limited to the first newspaper entering the market.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 7169.

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Length: 55 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2013
Publication status: published in: American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 2014, 6 (3), 159-188
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7169
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  1. Stefano DellaVigna & Ethan Kaplan, 2006. "The Fox News Effect: Media Bias and Voting," NBER Working Papers 12169, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Casaburi, Lorenzo & Troiano, Ugo, 2013. "Ghost-House Busters: The Electoral Response to a Large Anti Tax Evasion Program," MPRA Paper 52242, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. Miguel Garrido & Sam Schulhofer-Wohl, 2012. "Do newspapers matter? Short-run and long-run evidence from the closure of The Cincinnati Post," Staff Report 474, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  4. Valentino Larcinese, 2006. "Information acquisition, ideology and turnout: theory and evidence from Britain," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 3606, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  5. Ruben Durante & Brian Knight, 2009. "Partisan Control, Media Bias, and Viewer Responses: Evidence from Berlusconi's Italy," NBER Working Papers 14762, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Antonio Merlo & Vincenzo Galasso & Massimiliano Landi & Andrea Mattozzi, 2008. "The Labor Market of Italian Politicians," Working Papers 15-2008, Singapore Management University, School of Economics, revised Oct 2008.
  7. David Dreyer Lassen, 2004. "The Effect of Information on Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," EPRU Working Paper Series 04-03, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
  8. Timothy Besley & Robin Burgess, 2002. "The Political Economy of Government Responsiveness: Theory and Evidence from India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1415-1451.
  9. Stefano Gagliarducci & Tommaso Nannicini, 2010. "Do Better Paid Politicians Perform Better? Disentangling Incentives from Selection," CEIS Research Paper 162, Tor Vergata University, CEIS, revised 28 May 2010.
  10. Matthew Gentzkow & Nathan Petek & Jesse M. Shapiro & Michael Sinkinson, 2012. "Do Newspapers Serve the State? Incumbent Party Influence on the US Press, 1869-1928," NBER Working Papers 18164, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Simeon Djankov & Caralee McLiesh & Tatiana Nenova & Andrei Shleifer, 2001. "Who Owns the Media?," NBER Working Papers 8288, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Arianna Degan & Antonio Merlo, 2004. "A Structural Model of Turnout and Voting in Multiple Elections," PIER Working Paper Archive 06-021, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 01 Aug 2006.
  13. Bengt Holmström, 1999. "Managerial Incentive Problems: A Dynamic Perspective," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 169-182.
  14. Anthony Downs, 1957. "An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65, pages 135-135.
  15. Leopoldo Fergusson, 2012. "Media Markets, Special Interests, and Voters," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 009796, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
  16. Besley, Timothy, 2007. "Principled Agents?: The Political Economy of Good Government," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199283910, December.
  17. Claudio Ferraz & Frederico Finan, 2008. "Exposing Corrupt Politicians: The Effects of Brazil's Publicly Released Audits on Electoral Outcomes," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(2), pages 703-745.
  18. Felix Oberholzer-Gee & Joel Waldfogel, 2006. "Media Markets and Localism: Does Local News en Español Boost Hispanic Voter Turnout?," NBER Working Papers 12317, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Bengt Holmstrom, 1999. "Managerial Incentive Problems: A Dynamic Perspective," NBER Working Papers 6875, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  20. Matsusaka, John G, 1995. "Explaining Voter Turnout Patterns: An Information Theory," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 84(1-2), pages 91-117, July.
  21. Timothy J. Feddersen, 2004. "Rational Choice Theory and the Paradox of Not Voting," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(1), pages 99-112, Winter.
  22. Matthew Gentzkow, 2006. "Television and Voter Turnout," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(3), pages 931-972.
  23. David Strömberg, 2004. "Radio's Impact on Public Spending," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 119(1), pages 189-221.
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